Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonists have been a hot topic in the medical field lately. Although Ozempic, Trulicity, and other GLP-1 drugs have long been used for type 2 diabetes management, the approval of specific GLP-1 agonists for weight loss purposes in the United States has put them back in the spotlight. But while the idea of a “magic bullet” for diabetes control and weight loss might sound appealing, GLP-1 drugs aren’t intended for use in a vacuum.
Instead, you’ll need to use these medications along with other diabetes treatment methods to get the results you’re looking for. For example, research suggests that using both GLP-1 therapy and a continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system can provide some noteworthy benefits. If you’d like to learn more, here’s our detailed guide to this exciting topic.
Navigating GLP-1 Drugs and CGM Systems
What Are GLP-1 Drugs?
For nearly 20 years, type 2 diabetes patients in the United States have used GLP-1 agonists (See How GLP-1 Drugs work for a brief explanation) as part of their treatment regimen—these drugs were okayed for this purpose by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2005. More recently, several GLP-1 drugs have also been approved for weight loss.
Currently, there are many different GLP-1 agonists on the market, most of which are administered via injection. A few well-known drugs in this category include:
- Byetta (exenatide)
- Ozempic (semaglutide)
- Rybelsus (semaglutide, taken orally)
- Trulicity (dulaglutide)
- Victoza (liraglutide)
To find the right GLP-1 drug for you, you’ll need to take a few factors into account—including your age, any underlying conditions you have – like diabetes, your treatment goals, and what your insurance will cover. Your healthcare team will be able to help you find the best GLP-1 agonist for your unique situation, and they can answer any questions you have on this topic.
How Do GLP-1 Drugs Work?
To understand how GLP-1 agonists function, you’ll need to know a thing or two about the hormone they’re meant to resemble. Found in the small intestine, GLP-1 triggers the release of insulin, which is responsible for helping the human body convert food into energy. GLP-1 can also block the secretion of glucagon (a hormone capable of raising blood sugar levels), makes you feel full, and reduces the rate of stomach emptying (which can help your body release lower amounts of glucose into your bloodstream).
An “agonist” is any artificially produced substance that can attach to cell receptors and perform the same function as the naturally occurring substance it is designed to mimic. GLP-1 agonists bind to GLP receptors in the human body and trigger the effects listed above. As a result, they can help people control type 2 diabetes and lose weight.
GLP-1 Drugs and CGM Systems
Though GLP-1 agonists appear to be helpful for some people with diabetes, it’s essential to remember that these drugs can’t fully treat type 2 diabetes by themselves. Like any other form of diabetes treatment, GLP-1 drugs deliver the best results when used as part of a broader diabetes management strategy.
Taking that into account, diabetes patients should also explore options such as CGM systems. Scientific research has found that following a GLP-1 drug regimen while using a CGM system can result in significantly lower A1C test results among people with uncontrolled type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, CGM systems can reduce a user’s risk of severe hypoglycemic events—which is vital for people using both GLP-1 agonists and insulin.
According to industry-leading CGM manufacturer Abbott, there also appears to be a positive relationship between taking GLP-1 drugs and consistently using CGM systems. Abbott arrived at that conclusion after reviewing data* from retail pharmacies across the United States. This analysis found that:
- As of June 2023, over 40 percent of FreeStyle Libre users in the U.S. had also started using GLP-1 therapy.
- People taking GLP-1 drugs tend to have higher levels of adherence while using FreeStyle Libre systems (i.e., wearing their sensors regularly) than people who do not take these drugs.
- FreeStyle Libre users also stick to GLP-1 therapy longer than diabetes patients who use these medicines independently.
Diabetes Management is About Healthy Lifestyle Choices
Of course, there’s more to living a healthy life with diabetes than using GLP-1 agonists and CGM systems. People living with diabetes should also consistently make healthy lifestyle choices like:
- Following a healthy diet. A balanced diet shouldn’t cut out carbs entirely. Instead, people with diabetes should prioritize lean protein sources, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains while limiting their intake of sweets and fatty foods.
- Getting regular physical activity. Exercise can significantly improve your health, but you don’t have to become a weightlifter to reap the benefits of physical activity. Instead, aim to get at least a half-hour of physical activity most days of the week.
- Taking other medications as needed. Do you take insulin or any other medicines for diabetes management? If so, be sure to store your medications safely and follow your healthcare team’s guidance while using them.
- Prioritizing stress management. Anxiety doesn’t just make it harder to manage diabetes—stress can actively increase your blood sugar levels. Yoga, deep breathing, and relaxing hobbies should help you mitigate the effects of stress.
- Quitting smoking (or not starting). Smoking can increase your chances of encountering diabetes complications like nerve damage, blood vessel disease, stroke, and heart disease. If you’re a smoker, ask your healthcare team for advice on quitting.
- Drinking in moderation. If you choose to drink, do so within reason. Guidelines from the American Diabetes Association state that men with diabetes should have no more than two drinks daily and women with diabetes should stop at one drink per day.
Do you take insulin or any other medicines for diabetes management? If so, be sure to store your medications safely and follow your healthcare team’s guidance while using them.
Advanced Diabetes Supply – Your Reliable CGM Supplier
GLP-1 agonists aren’t a cure-all for people with type 2 diabetes, but they can still make it easier to manage this disease. By using these medications along with a continuous glucose monitoring system and making some other lifestyle changes, you may find it much easier to keep your diabetes under control.
If you’re looking for a reliable supplier of CGM systems and other diabetes-related items, Advanced Diabetes Supply has you covered. Thanks to our unbeatable customer service, fast shipping times, and vast selection of products, ADS is the ideal place to order any diabetes supplies you might need. To get started, take a look at the supplies we have in stock!